The best ways to redeem miles to fly on an A380
After more than a year of staying parked, several airlines are starting to bring the world's largest commercial airline back to the skies. The Airbus A380 is back in service -- and you can fly it with miles and points.
When it comes to the A380, size is the first thing you'll notice but it isn't everything. The two-story aircraft also boasts some of the most luxurious cabins flying the sky as well as one of the world's most comfortable economy cabins. Let’s take a look at the best ways to book an award ticket to fly on this mammoth aircraft.
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Who flies the A380?
Currently, there are nine airlines with A380s in their fleet:
- All Nippon Airways
- Asiana Airlines
- British Airways
- China Southern Airlines
- Korean Air
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
Sadly, several airlines have announced they're retiring their A380 fleet early to make room for more fuel-efficient planes like the A350 or 787. Old favorites, including Air France, Etihad, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways, don't expect to fly this wide-body anymore. Other airlines like ANA and Qantas have their A380s grounded for the foreseeable future.
Not all is lost, though. Below you'll find a handful of ways you can book A380 flights in first, business and economy class. The list only includes airlines that have announced plans to bring back A380 service and are currently selling flights on the aircraft.
A word of caution: travel demand is still volatile so it's not unheard of for airlines to swap aircraft as it gets closer to the scheduled travel date. Even if you're booked on a flight scheduled on your preferred aircraft, keep an eye on your flight all the way up to departure — or even set an aircraft change alert in ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG's parent company, Red Ventures).
Related: Last-ever A380 departs Airbus’ Toulouse factory
Emirates - New York-JFK, Washington, Los Angeles or Toronto to Dubai - 136,250 Emirates Skywards Miles
Emirates has brought more A380s back into service than any other carrier. Already, you'll find this aircraft on most departures from New York-JFK, Washington Dulles, and Los Angeles. From Toronto, it flies five times a week.
First class on Emirates' A380 is all about bling, with gold accents and over-the-top design. You'll be spoiled with Dom Perignon champagne, great in-flight entertainment and access to an in-flight shower. For travelers that want a brag-worthy experience, this is a great bet.
If Dubai isn't your final destination, the A380 also flies from Emirates' hub in Dubai to cities like Johannesburg and Cairo. You can fly the A380 on Emirates' fifth-freedom route from New York-JFK to Milan (MXP), making this one of the most luxurious ways to travel to Europe.
You can book Emirates first class awards tickets with Emirates Skywards. Awards are priced by distance, meaning flights from the east coast of North America to Dubai will be slightly cheaper than from the west coast. For example, you can expect to pay 136,250 miles + approximately $180.60 in taxes for a one-way first class flight to from New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB).
You can transfer points to Emirates Skywards from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Marriott Bonvoy.
Related: Everything you need to know about Emirates Skywards
Qatar Airways - London to Doha - 42,500 AAdvantage miles
Though Qatar Airways award-winning Q Suites usually get all the attention, business class on the Qatar A380 is nothing to laugh at. Every one of the 48 lie-flat herringbone seats features aisle access for a comfortable trip. Plus, onboard food and drink service is typically excellent, and there's even a bar onboard.
Most of Qatar Airways' A380s remain grounded, but the airline announced it will resume A380 service in advance of the winter holidays. As of now, the aircraft is scheduled for daily departures from London-Heathrow (LHR) and Paris (CDG) to Doha (DOH) on the A380 starting Nov. 2021.
Booking Qatar Airways flights with miles is a breeze. One of the best options is booking with American AAdvantage miles, where you'll pay 42,500 miles one-way from Europe to Doha (or anywhere else in the Middle East award region) in business class.
There are no fuel surcharges, but expect costs of about $305 from London to account for U.K. Air Passenger Duty; from Doha back to London, it's much cheaper at $25. Flights from Paris are cheaper with $68.75 in taxes and fees to Doha and $25 in fees from Doha to Paris.
You can transfer Marriott points to AAdvantage at a 3:1 transfer ratio, with 60,000 point transfers receiving a 5,000 mile bonus. You can also transfer Citi ThankYou points to AAdvantage at a 1:1 transfer ratio through Nov. 13, 2021.
Singapore Airlines A380 - Singapore to London - 92,000 Krisflyer miles
While the longest flight in the world is operated by a different aircraft, you'll find Singapore Airlines' A380s on a handful of routes. Singapore recently announced plans to reopen to international tourists from select countries on Oct. 19. Shortly thereafter, Singapore Airlines announced that its A380 will again fly the London to Singapore route starting Nov. 18, 2021.
Singapore's A380 aircraft is outfitted with first, business, premium economy and economy classes. While the first class Suites product may be the most aspirational, award space is often hard to come by. Thankfully, business class is much easier to book and its nothing short of an excellent experience, with a great seat and top-notch onboard dining and service.
Singapore Airlines generally only allows Singapore Krisflyer members to book premium cabin award tickets. Business class awards from London to Singapore start at 92,000 miles one-way and $301.14 in taxes and fees.
Since Krisflyer is a transfer partner of Amex, Capital One, Citi and Chase, you should have no problem acquiring the miles you need.
Related: Watch TPG U.K. review all four classes on Singapore Airlines’ A380
British Airways - Miami or Los Angeles to London - 25,000 Avios
British Airways used to operate numerous A380s to the U.S. but grounded its superjumbo fleet early on in the pandemic. Thankfully, that's changing in December when the airline relaunches A380 service from London to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA).
Although all economy passengers can enjoy a quieter, most restful flight on the A380, the upper deck is where it shines. Here, the economy cabin only has two seats instead of three next to the windows, giving travelers who are traveling in pairs a little more privacy. And when you're in economy, every little bit helps.
British Airways Executive Club prices award tickets based on distance, with flights from Miami to London starting as low as 25,000 Avios and $229 in taxes and fees on off-peak dates. Or, you can book the same flight for 30,000 AAdvantage miles and $199.20 in taxes and fees.
You can transfer Amex, Capital One, Chase and Marriott points to British Airways Avios. Remember, you can transfer Citi points to AAdvantage through Nov. 13, 2021 or transfer from Marriott.
Related: The best seats on a British Airways Airbus A380
Aviation geeks aren't the only ones who should be excited now that the A380 is returning to service. It's not just a novelty to fly these planes: it's a comfortable, memorable way to travel and best of all, you can book it for free. Plus, it's a clear indicator that air travel is returning to some resemblance of normal after a massive coronavirus-fueled slowdown in 2020.
Feature photo by Thiago B Trevisan/Shutterstock.com
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh